Collection of Ancient Inscriptions

Early Semitic Inscriptions
Middle Semitic Inscriptions
Late Semitic Inscriptions
Modern Semitic Inscriptions
Cuneiform Semitic Inscriptions

Early Semitic Inscriptions

Serabit el-Khadim Inscription

This inscription, discovered by William Flinders Petrie in 1904, dated to about 1500 BCE, was found on rocks in Serabit El-Khadim in the Sinai Penninsula. The ancinet letter 'aleph' is clearly visible in the upper left corner of the image. Not as visible is the letter 'lamed' below the aleph, and the letter 'mem' to the right of the aleph, forming the word m'el meaning 'from God'.

Serabit el-Khadim Inscription

This is another inscription from Serabit El-Khadim discovered by Petrie. A portion of the inscription reads MT LB'LT (mat l'ba'alt) meaning "death to/for Ba'alt" (The word Ba'alt is the feminine form of the word ba'al meaning 'lord/master').

Serabit el-Khadim Inscription

This is another inscription from Serabit El-Khadim discovered by Petrie. The letter at the top is 'aleph' and below that is the letter 'beyt' spelling the Semitic word 'av' meaning 'father.'

Serabit el-Khadim Inscription

Another inscription from Serabit El-Khadim also discovered by Petrie.

Wadi El-Hol Inscription

This inscription was discovered in 1999 by John and Deborah Darnell in Egypt. This inscription is about 4,000 years old and is the oldest example discovered to date of the ancient Semitic script. While an accurate translation of the full inscription is not possible, a possible translation is "many rise and toil from the [unknown word/s] from the city."

Middle Semitic Inscriptions

Sh'ma Pottery Shard

This is a potsherd with the Hebrew word "sh'ma", meaning to hear, written on it and dates to about 500 BCE.

Moabite Inscription

This inscription is written in the Moabite language, a sister language to Hebrew, and is dated to about 1000 BCE.

Tell Dan Inscription

Known as the "Tel Dan" inscription, this stone tablet contains the phrases "King of Israel" and "House of David" and is one of two non-Biblical source confirming the existence of King David from the Bible.

Amman Citadel Inscription

Dated to about 1000 BCE and written in the Amonite language, another sister language to Hebrew.

Gezer Calender

This inscription, discovered in the Ancient city of Gezer, chronicles the different growing seasons of the different months and is therefore known as the Gezer Calender.

House of YHWH Temple Ostraca

Known as the "Temple Ostraca," This potsherd (called an ostraca) is a receipt for 3 shekels from Zekaryahu (Zecheriah) for the "Temple of Yahweh." This is the only non-Biblical record for the Temple of Yahweh. However, because the origins of this inscription is not known (it was in a private collection) some have proposed that it is a fake.

Meshe Stele (Moabite Stone)

This stele is famously known as the "Moabite Stone" and the "Mesha Stelle." It was discovered in 1868 in Dibon Jordan. The text is the account of King Meshe and is the second non-Biblical reference to "King David" of the Bible. It is written in the Moabite language, another sister language to Hebrew. This stele is now located in the Louvre Museum in Paris France.

Los Lunas Inscription

The inscription is the Ten Commandments and written in the same style of Hebrew (Middle Semitic script) that was commonly used from 1000 BCE to 100 CE. But what is amazing about this rock is that it was found in the mid 19th century in Los Lunas New Mexico. Because of the location of this "Ancient Hebrew" inscription much, controversy surrounds its origins and authenticity.

Temple Tablet

This tablet, from a private collection, is called the Jehoash Tablet and discusses repairs to King Solomon's Temple. The inscription closely parallels 2 Kings 12:1-6. It has recently been determined by Israeli archeologists that this tablet is a forgery.

Silver Coin

This silver coin is dated to between 66 and 70 CE. While most inscriptions from this period are in the Late Semitic Script, these coins show that the "paleo" or "Middle Semitic Script" was still in use.


This fragment of Job 42:11-12 from the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) manuscript uses a middle Hebrew font for the Tetragrammaton (YHVH/Yahweh, the name of God - located in black box). All later copies of the Septuagint replaced this Hebrew name with the Greek word Kyrios meaning "lord". Hebrew copies of the Hebrew Bible written with the late Hebrew script often used the middle Hebrew script for the name of God in order to preserve the original appearance of the name. The use of the middle Hebrew script in this fragment suggests a strict Jewish origin of this Septuagint.

Seal of Baruch

Clay bullaes such as this one are made by placing a lump of wet clay on a document then using a signet ring to impress the seal of the owner on the clay. It is possible that this seal belonged to Baruch, Jeremiah's scribe (see Jeremiah 36:4)

Samaritan Pentetuch

The Samaritans claim this scroll was written by Abisha, the son of Aaron, but this can not be substantiated. The script, though slightly different, is very similar to the middle Hebrew script used by Israel around 1000 BCE.

Lachish Inscription

Written on the potsherd is a letter of protest which was written by a Jewish farmer to the governor of the region 2600 years ago. In this letter the farmer complains that his garment was taken from him unjustly, and he asks the governor to act on his behalf in order that his garment be returned to him. This fragment of pottery is now in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Copper Coin

An Israeli coin dated to between 100 BCE and 130 CE contains the Hebrew word sh'ma meaning to hear and is a common "motto" in ancient Israel.

Tell Zayit Abcedery

This inscription, carved on a boulder, was discovered at the Tel Zayit archeological dig south of Jerusalem. The inscription is dated to the 10th Century CE and is the ABCs of the Hebrew alphabet.

Ceramic Shard

The inscription is written in the middle Semitic script. The two words read ALWT and WLT, names similar to the Biblical name Goliath.

Pottery Shard

This painted piece of pottery is dated to between 1000 and 400 BCE. The writing is incomplete but the letters resemble the Hebrew word hayah meaning to be/exist.

Pyrgi Tablet

The gold sheet, discovered in Pyrgi Italy, is written in the Phonecian language, another sister language to Hebrew, and is written in parallel with an Etruscan inscription.

Dead Sea Scroll

Paleo-Hebrew Leviticus: Some of the Biblical scrolls found in the Dead Sea Caves were written with the middle (Paleo) Hebrew script such as these fragments from the book of Leviticus.

Ketef Hinnom Amulets

A silver scroll with the Aaronic Blessing from the 7th Century B.C. This is the oldest known text of the Hebrew Bible.

Ceramic Bowl

Archeologists working in Jerusalem discovered what they say is a 2700 year-old pottery fragment with an ancient hebrew inscription containing the name of a biblical figure.

Late Semitic Inscriptions

Dead Sea Scroll

Many of the Dead Sea Scrolls are written in the Late Semitic script. However, the second word from the right on the bottom line is the Tetragrammaton (YHVH/Yahweh - the name of God) written in the middle Semitic script. This was commonly done in order to preserve the more ancient form of the name.

Dead Sea Scroll

Another fragment from the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Stone Tablet

This plaque was written in the first century AD to commemorate the re-burial of King Uzziah in Israel. It was found near the Mount of Olives in Israel.


Amulet with a Representation of the Akedah (Sacrifice of Isaac, Genesis 22).

Copper Coin

This copper coin from the first century CE includes the Hebrew inscription Yerushalem (Jerusalem).

James Ossuary

One of the more controversial discoveries in recent times. This ossuary (bone box) includes the inscription Yacob/Jacob/James son of Yoseph/Joseph the brother of Yeshua/Jesus. This was in a private collection so its origins are unknown. Most agree that the first part of the inscription is authentic but the final portion (brother Yeshua) is a forgery.

Bar Kockba Letter

This letter written in the second century CE (AD) shows that the Hebrew language was still in common use even to this time. Shimeon Ben Kosiba (Simon Bar Kockba) was the leader of the second Jewish revolt of 135 CE. Contained within this letter is the coloquiol "tashmiym" (last word, third line) for "et hashamayim".

Dead Sea Fragment

A fragment of a Dead Sea Scroll located at the Oriental Institute in Chicago.

Dead Sea Scroll

This fragment from the book of Enoch proves that some Jews during the first century BCE or the first century CE valued the book of Enoch as scripture. The only surviving group that still retains this book within its Canon is the Ethiopic Church.

Nash Papyrus

A version of the Ten Commandments combining parts of the versions from Exodus and Deuteronomy but omits the phrase "house of bondage," possibly from the fact that this fragment was found, and probably written in, Egypt.

Clay Bowl

A bowl with the inscription "Korban" (offering) with the image of two dead doves.

Modern Semitic Inscriptions

Hebrew Bible

A sample of a modern Hebrew Bible whose script has changed very little in 1000 years when compared to the Masoretic Hebrew texts such as the Aleppo Codex and the Lenningrad Codex.

Codex Leningrad

This image is an excerpt from Exodus 15:26 to Exodus 16:3 from the Masoretic Leningrad Codex. Until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, This codex was the oldest known complete work of the Hebrew Bible.

Cuneiform Semitic Inscriptions

Ugarit Clay Tablet

The Ugarit cuneiform script is the only known alphabetic cuneiform known to have existed. The language of the Ugarits is practically identical with the ancient Hebrew language as well as other contemporary Semitic languages.

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